I am a Southern girl. I state this not so much as a point of pride, something that sets me apart or as an excuse, although I suppose it could be all three at different points in time. It is just reality. And while there are people I've met down here that seem to have the faint tinge of "Deliverance"...most of the people I know are just good old normal folks.
We name our children after their mother or grandmother...or we at least use someone's maiden name. It is not uncommon to see men with roman numerals such as III, IV, or V after their names. We have no problem with double names...for boys or girls. We'll shorten them to something unrecognizable anyway.
We monogram everything. Silver, napkins, purses, and towels. Lately, I've noticed monograms on the back window of cars. In "curlz" font, of course. Granted, those cars sporting monograms have to share back window space with the sticker from the SEC university of choice and the one from our child's school and/or most dominant recreational activity. You can learn a lot about people down here by just looking at the back of their car. "Car" is a loose term meaning more likely than not...truck, van, or SUV.
We are fairly rabid about football, youth baseball, and NASCAR. People take vacations at the beach or lake, and often...these are multigenerational. We take our chidren to Disney World, our spouses on a cruise, and ourselves to Europe, the Holy Land, or Hawaii.
Our eating habits are somewhat questionable in terms of fat grams and sodium intake, and every social activity is going to somehow revolve around food. We'll load up enough food to feed a small third world country just to tailgate, and we'll pay a ridiculous amount of money to be able to pitch a tent on the Quad.
We'll offer you a "Coke" but that is just a catch-all phrase for what other folks call "soda", "carbonated beverages" or "pop." The word "Pop" to us means "Grandfather" as do "PeePaw", "PawPaw" or "Poppy."
Our summers are either hot, ridiculously hot, or excrutiating...but we will bake on bleachers, sand, or a dock just the same. Tanning beds do a booming business here. Humidity is a given. It explains the big hair.
We celebrate everything from engagements to birthdays to weddings with gusto. We go to balls and parade our debutantes. We go to graduations with huge receptions and funerals are well attended. Most of us consider the latter to be a beginning for that person...rather than an ending...although we will mourn appropriately. That mourning process involves taking food to the family.
Our tea is sweet enough to stand a spoon in and we'll fry anything. Paula Deen is really indicative of the women here...big hair and all.
We watch our language, and we watch out for our neighbors. We try to do the right thing, and we try to make things right. We'll grow our own food, fish from our ponds, and make our own entertainment. Often, that entertainment involves a four wheeler, a hunting lodge, or a grill.
The song "Sweet Home Alabama" will make us shout out and we'll more often than not "turn it up" when it comes within earshot out of respect for Lynyrd Skynyrd.
We overlook a lot...but not the forgotten thank you note, white shoes after Labor Day, or someone acting trashy.
Our pronouns are mangled, we speak slowly, and we consider the words "y'all" and "ain't" perfectly acceptable contractions.
We preserve jellies, bounty from the garden, and traditions exceedingly well.
We do not consider it intrusive to call out somebody else's kid for something if it is done in love, and we all want to know every detail of someone's prom, wedding, and vacation. We live precariously through each other, and we pretty much know everybody else's business.
Our trucks are big as are our hearts.
We overlook far more than we expect, but we don't overlook it if we are not addressed correctly. The terms "yes ma'am" and "no sir" are taught to our little ones before they can pronounce all of their consonants properly.
For the most part we are family oriented, hard workers, and fun. We tolerate those among us who are not and roll our eyes when we find that these seem to be the only people any media outlet can find when interviewing a local resident after a natural disaster.
We are givers more than we are takers, and lovers more than we are fighters. But talk about our Mamas or show bad manners toward a lady, and you'll find that we might talk slowly, but we get riled up mighty fast.
Camo is worn in the winter, and flip flops are worn in the summer. We won't judge a woman by the way she dresses unless her boobs are hanging out or her clothes are way too tight, or if her toenails are unpainted.
But most of all, we are taught to appreciate the lifestyle that we have been blessed with, and even if we are transplanted elsewhere...we still have our love of home and our "ways."
Yes, I am a Southern girl. I don't always love everything about living here, but I can't see myself living anywhere else. I've lived the better part of my life in Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama. I call people "sweetie" and try to remember my manners. There is a pitcher of sweet tea in my refrigerator, and ten jars of newly canned strawberry fig preserves sitting on my counter. The sun is rising over the pond in my backyard, and it is already 85 degrees outside. It is 6:31 a.m. In an hour, I'll be leaving for church, and I'll have sliced tomatoes that were purchased at the Farmer's Market yesterday with lunch.
I'll hang out a little with my dogs Dixie and Rebel, and will keep preparing my house for the company I'm expecting next week. My sister who lives in France...my folks...my daughter home from college...and two little sweeties - ages 3 and 4 - who expect Aunt KK to give them sweet tea on demand. Life is good.